Death Grips leaked their second major label album, ‘NO LOVE DEEP WEB’ today. Here, five SPIN editors give their hasty and completely impulsive opinions…
Christopher R. Weingarten
Their major label debut, The Money Store (released in, what, April?), was a manic nic-fit of chatter-sputter/jitter-splatter, but lacked the aggy energy of the Exmilitary mixtape because they couldn’t legally/financially sample anything once they got scooped by a major label. Well, this album is the perfect workaround, all electronic drums and cyberfuck gnashnoise somewhere between The Bug and Cannibal Ox and David Guetta screwdriver-gouging a Speak N Spell. More than anything its bassgrind scuzzbluster is — in sound and Windows 95 vision alike — like M.I.A.’s much maligned /\/\ /\ Y /\: all noises stretched like dirty Silly Putty…but this time you can actually dance to it (slam… duh duh duh, etc.) MC Ride is finding his limits and exploiting them, letting his voice crack like Tim Dog in “Fuck Compton” or Lil Jon on “Might Getcha,” to beautiful effect. And “FUCK IT” is still his “2 Chaaaainz.” Who-gives-a-shit intellectual property debates or no, it’s certainly more punk than Japandroids or Milk Music or whatever the fuck; smash your head on it.
Early score: 9/10
Many an outfit has been sunk by the mighty Zach Hill on drums. There was Nathan Williams of Wavves, who, post Primavera-gate, joined with Hill both in the studio and the stage, the latter always so loud the other could rarely be heard, could barely keep pace. We heard a few songs, the project died on the vine. There was Marnie Stern, whose zig-zagging, avant-pop metal became almost too hummingbird-like when Hill was charged with anchoring and spraying about its rhythms. They’ve made their last record together for a while. But Stefan “MC Ride” Burnett, Hill’s partner in Death Grips is that rare personality that cannot be bullied off a beat or bounced from a recording. They match one another, so they lock horns, go toe-to-toe. No one compromises, everyone collides, and the result is unchecked, flame-throwing id at newfound, previously unconsidered volumes. Though NO LOVE DEEP WEB, their latest, may be known in the short term as the record with the dick on the cover, let it be known instead, at some point, for every glorious bruise it’s capable of leaving. It’s minimal yet chaotic, unyielding and bewildering, with little regard for you or me or our Twitter feed or whatever it was we were trying to do before pressing play.
Early score: 8/10
An uneasy release: Mannered, cathartic noisemaking rubbing up against closed-circuit art-wank weirdness. A while back — probably bitter about the fact that these guys were hot, while noise-rap innovator B L A C K I E remained busking around the nation with his stack of amps and a heart full of hate — I called the group “Waka Flocka Flame for grad students.” I still stick by that reading, but now I realize there’s nothing wrong with that. Especially when MC Ride croaks out catchy threats on “Come Up and Get Me,” and stomps around a Soulja Boy-with-roid-rage beat on “Black Dice.” Those moments feel like Sleigh Bells’ screech-pop gone hip-hop.
But too much of NO LOVE DEEP WEB coasts on the electro minimalism that producers Zach Hill and Andy Morin employ as a shortcut rather than a bold attempt to cut through the B.S. and get right to the point. “No Love” buzzes around for five whole minutes; demo-like “Whammy” wanders, while Ride’s vocals feel Flatbush Zombies-like in their ability to be in-quotes “scary” and incredibly corny. This one just feels endless. Given the cheap shock tactics here (a dumb-assed dick pic on the cover), and their Twitter’s anti-label rhetoric about releasing it for free because Epic was scheduling it for next year, it’s hard to root for these guys. The Money Store, their debut for Epic, felt like some twisted victory over a clueless major. With NO LOVE DEEP WEB, it seems like they’re getting one over on their fans.
Early score: 5/10
Death Grips’ trademark brutality made somehow more brutal, more unyielding. Perhaps that’s a trick of the boner they slapped onto the “cover” of this band-instigated digital leak, but it probably has more to do with the extra strain and breathlessness that can be heard in Ride’s voice as he tourettes-ily gasp-raps about the “fucking nothing” that he clearly sees as infesting fucking everything. For No Love Deep Web’s hefty opener, “Come Up and Get Me,” his presence is even more demanding than the low-bitrate bass that burbles beneath, while a cut like “No Love” finds him deep within the whirring noise, sounding like Del the Funky Homosapien on bathsalts fronting the Body Count/Atari Teenage Riot big band. In parts, this shit is esoteric enough to be a skronked-out sequel to Deep Puddle Dynamics, but it’s ultimately beefed-up, bleakbanger music that demands your bodily acquiescence rather than appealing to your brainy nature. Danny Brown wishes he could go this hard.
Early score: 8/10
Sorry to be a hater, but I have several issues with the song “Hunger Games”:
1. Changing the setting from District 12 to Sacramento was a terrible idea. They’re just nothing alike: One is a desolate, hopeless, joyless, dystopian hellhole, and the other one is District 12. Seriously, the only thing Sacto has going for it is Del Taco. No wonder this dude sounds so pissed.
2. This is obviously meant to be our generation’s label-antagonizing, public-alienating, modern-society-bird-flip equivalent to Tusk, but at least Tusk had “That’s All for Everyone.”
3. The Peeta/Gale love triangle is totally underdeveloped.
4. It’d be nice if the alleged cutting edge in hip-hop/metal/noise fusion sounded more menacing and engaging than Kid Cudi on his cell phone at Electric Daisy Carnival yelling at a FreshDirect customer service rep for forgetting his avocados again.
5. Lenny Kravitz, sorely underutilized.
6. The line “Got the nasty in my taxi, you need a lift? You can sit between the back seat and my dick” is not in the book anywhere.
7. Worst cover image since Catching Fire.
8. Death Grips Now Going Door-to-Door Trying to Shock People.
Early score: 2/10
AVERAGE SCORE: 6.4